The future of social justice in the Delaware Valley: Bread & Roses Community Fund and the plan for the next 40 years

In the early 1970s, a group of young Philadelphians started the People’s Fund to provide funding for social justice organizations that were unable to get support from the United Way and other grantmakers.

The People’s Fund transformed into Bread & Roses Community Fund, and through the combined efforts of thousands of donors has given away more than $10 million in grants to community organizations throughout the region as well as tens of thousands of hours of technical assistance to strengthen organizing in the region.

Bread & Roses has put funding behind every significant organizing victory in the region since opening its doors. Some of these include:

But it’s time to do more.

Why? Because we’re behind. Both unemployment and the gap between the wealthiest and poorest residents of our region are growing faster than ever. School funding is being cut and prison spending is through the roof. And the people in power at the city, state, and federal levels aren’t doing enough.

The only way real change can happen in the Delaware Valley is if everyone who cares about social justice contributes as much as they can to make community organizing possible.

How? Bread & Roses has always helped make change behind the scenes. But as the need for change has become apparent, the board is asking if it’s time for Bread & Roses to become the region’s leader for social change. Bread & Roses could continue to help new organizing efforts get off the ground and flourish, but some stakeholders have suggested also doing more, such as:

  • Setting priorities as a community for issues that should get special attention each year
  • Offering a few larger grants to organizations that are poised for victory
  • Creating a fellowship program to interest more people in choosing organizing as a
    ·career
  • Bringing groups together across issue areas to build winning coalitions

The board of directors at Bread & Roses Community Fund convened a committee to reshape the organization in order to better empower a movement for change in the Delaware Valley. The committee has come up with a set of initial recommendations. Now they are looking for your feedback to make them stronger. Here’s what the committee has in mind:

A vision for the new Bread & Roses

Bread & Roses-and the community of people who support it-can do more to make strategic change a reality. Some of the committee recommendations include things Bread & Roses already does well but can do better, such as:

  • Grantmaking: offering more and larger grants to have a bolder strategic impact
  • Technical assistance: providing mentorship opportunities for young and/or new organizers as well as t raining in specific organizing models and theories of change

And some new functions would be added, such as:

  • Convening: bringing together effective Delaware Valley groups that would not otherwise connect in order to build strategic campaigns for change
  • Campaigning: providing opportunities for supporters to take action on key issues like a local version of MoveOn.org

With these changes, Bread & Roses will make an even bigger impact in our region. And in order to make any of this possible we’ll have to reach more people and bring our fundraising to scale.

The right wing has proven that well-funded organizations can have an impact. To make real change happen in our region, people who care about social justice have to commit to funding our movement for change. And. that means that Bread & Roses will bring a new focus and energy to raising the money needed to allow community organizers to win concrete victories.

We would love to hear your feedback! Take a minute to let us know your thoughts about the new Bread & Roses. Send us an email at plan@breadrosesfund.org.